Collecting Data

Hi everyone!

This year my team submitted a Chairman’s presentation and our judges kept asking us for more number based data. We used anecdotes but the judges were looking for a broader perspective.

Specifically, “How many people would not have considered robotics without your targeted outreach?” “Did the kids you trained in FLL feel inspired to continue their robotics journey?” “How many kids have you reached?” "How has your team been able to change the culture in sports towns (again, we used anecdotes and they were looking for broader numbers)

I was wondering if anyone had an outreach survey to get these (and other) numbers. Like maybe a form or survey that kids/parents/community members could fill out and give feedback on your outreach event.

Any methods of data collecting would be great!

The number of attendees at certain events is a good place to start. If you attend, say, a parade in your city, you could send an email and ask approximately how many people were estimated to be in attendance. If the number comes from a city official/event organizer, you can assume that it’ll be pretty accurate. Transparency with your data sources is important also; you should be able to prove how you got your numbers.

A survey would probably work better for initiatives that are sustained, such as mentoring a team. Because you’re working closer with people, you can get a better grasp of the impact your team has. Getting interviews, personal stories, statistics, etc makes more sense for sustained programs where getting in contact with and talking to people is a lot easier.

By far the most important aspect of gathering “Chairman’s Data” is being timely. It’s much easier to gather and document facts about events when they’ve just happened. The quality of your data/documentation will be much better on the day/week of your initiative than several months/years into the future. Remember that preparing your CA submission, even if you write your essay and film your video in the build season alone, is a year-round effort.

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In terms of collecting information. One method of gathering information is at demos/events give out something in the nature of pamphlets, and count how many you give away to gain an idea of the amount of individuals reached with an event.

If you don’t have numerical information to answer their question don’t be afraid to “ball park” it. Just make sure if you do that the judges understand that the student is estimating.

First of all, try to, as a team, collect data as you do anything, that way you don’t have to struggle to remember (we learned that the hard way). As far as numbers, you can get rosters from FLL teams and count how many kids you’ve helped through that. Team rosters are good, too. Show how your team has (hopefully) grown in terms of numbers. And if you do any expos or events, I’m sure you can contact the event coordinators to get rough estimates of attendees.

Anecdotes aren’t bad, in fact, they’re great. Having anecdotes with the data to back them up is where you want to be.

One of the most instrumental changes that 503 has made in recent years is switching over to Office 365 as our official base of internet operations. Each student gets their own FF email, and all information is distributed and collected this way.

365 lets you create a profile, which we use to indicate gender, grade level, previous FIRST experience, etc. We also schedule all of our outreach activities as “events” in the software, and require students to register for events. This enables us to accurately track how many students/mentors attend each event so that we can calculate volunteer hours.

We can also deploy surveys to the entire group very quickly, and drill down in the data much more efficiently. For example, we’ve created surveys regarding Jr. FLL/FLL/FTC mentoring (which teams, how many times/week and duration of meetings, number of students, awards won), volunteering at FLL/FTC events (we support most FTC events across the state every year, making it hard to keep track otherwise), FIRST impact (how has FIRST changed your life, did it impact your future career goals, where are you attending college, what is your selected major, etc.).

This style of tracking made it very easy for us to adapt to the new FIRST definitions (starting/mentoring/assisting/hosting/running/supporting etc.). Some specific metrics that we consistently track:

  • Amount of Jr. FLL/FLL/FTC/FRC teams started each year
  • Amount of Jr. FLL/FLL/FTC/FRC teams mentored this year
  • Which events are associated with “assisting” teams, number of teams attending
  • Amount of teams assisted through correspondence
  • Amount of workshops held with amount of teams attending
  • Amount of students progressing from one program to the next from teams we mentor (FLL --> FTC, etc.)
  • Gender, age, ethnicity, FIRST experience, additional extracurriculars, FIRST impact on incoming/current students
  • Scholarships, school of choice, major, and impact that FIRST had on academic choices for graduating seniors
  • For events with media coverage, viewership ratings/followers/subscribers/readers of various media outlets to calculate people reached
  • Number of years with sponsor, new sponsors added, contribution amounts, students receiving internship/job placement with sponsors, media coverage by sponsors
  • Achievements of teams that we have started and/or mentored by season

This isn’t a data point, but we always try and send out surveys to people that we work with to get feedback and confirmation that we helped. This includes volunteer coordinators of FIRST events, teams we mentor/assist/start, attendees of events and workshops we run, etc. If you can get first hand confirmation of your actions, this goes a long way towards bolstering the credibility of your numbers.